Friday, 28 November 2014

Khorasan. A bread of biblical status







Also called ‘Camel’s Tooth’, ‘King Tut’s Wheat’ or the ‘Prophet’s Wheat’, Khorasan is a grain shrouded in mystery and legend.



Among Turkish farmers who still grow this ancient wheat, there is a rumour that Khorasan is the wheat that Noah took on the ark.




Many believe that it originated in what is now called the ‘fertile crescent’ in the Middle East, and takes its name from the Persian province of Khorasan in what is today northern Iran.  The name ‘Khorasan means ‘where the sun arrives from’ in Persian. 











Legend has it that it was the wheat that fed Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.  Indeed, it is commonly accepted that Khorasan was introduced back into modern times by an American airman in 1949 who obtained just a handful of grains from King Tut’s tomb in Egypt and brought it back to Montana in the US where he began to cultivate it. 

King Tut
Whether the kernels would be able to germinate after thousands of years is most definitely open to question.

But how can you resist baking a bread from a grain with such a history?

Believed to be a very close relation to modern day durum wheat which is often used for pasta, Khorasan is an ancient grain which contains far more goodness than its contemporary equivalents.  This is because it has been cultivated and modified less and therefore retains more nutrients.  Many people who have trouble digesting wheat breads find Khorasan much more agreeable.  Nutritionally it boasts 30% more protein and 65% more amino acids than standard wheat as well as being rich in Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. 




You can see here that the flour is robust and a little coarse.  It has a very slightly nutty smell to it.


Khorasan flour









I’m using fresh yeast here but you can use dry or fast acting.  Just use 7g instead of the 14g of fresh.  The honey can be replaced with sugar if you wish.

This is quite a wet mix so you do need the electric mixer.  If you want to do it by hand then reduce the water by about 20ml to make it easier to knead.


Ingredients

250g Strong baker’s flour
250g Khorasan flour
14g  Fresh yeast
375ml water at room / blood temperature
9g salt
18g Honey
15ml Sunflower oil

Utensils

A large mixing bowl
Electric mixer with dough hook
Electric weighing scales
Baking tray
Cooling rack


Dissolve the fresh yeast in about 100ml of the room temperature water.  Add in the honey to the water.  Leave for around 10 minutes.

Sieve your two flours together with the salt into the mixing bowl. 

Add your oil to the water, yeast and honey.

Make a well in the bottom and add in your water.  Reserve a little just to make sure you get the right consistency.  You should be able to collect all of the flour and liquid together into a complete shaggy mass with no extra flour left around the bowl.  This will be quite a wet mix.

Cover and let sit for at least 10 minutes for the moisture to absorb as much as possible before kneading.  Up to an hour if you can.

Now transfer the dough to the electric mixer, attach the dough hook and mix until you have a soft, elastic and pliable dough.  Up to 10 minutes. 

When you are happy, return to a lightly oiled bowl and allow to double in size at room temperature.

When the dough has doubled in size knock back and remove from the bowl. 

Shape into a ball and place on a lightly floured baking tray.  Dust with flour and then cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. 

Leave to prove for a second time until risen again.  This will be a shorter time than the first. 

Pre heat your oven to 220 ° C conventional and place your baking tray in the oven.  If you are using a steam bath technique put you empty tray under to heat up as well.

The dough is ready when you press a finger gently to dent the dough and the dent remains.

Return to the oven with a big spray of water into the oven or pour cold water onto your heated tray in the bottom of the oven. 

Bake for 10 minutes on 220 ° C then turn your oven down to 200° C for a further 30 minutes.  A total of 40 minutes.

Remember that ovens vary so take them out when they are done not simply at the end of the cooking time.  Bake the loaf not recipe!

Remember…

  • loaves coloured on the crust
  • feeling ‘light for the size’
  • sounding hollow when tapped. 


Enjoy this and know that you are eating something similar to what nourished the ancient kings of Egypt.





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